By: Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Look out Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings. There’s a new crop of reporters on the block, er, balcony. Welcome to “Bloggers’ Boulevard,” a section of the FleetCenter where independent Web scribes post their musings about the Democratic National Convention on personal Internet sites as events play out on the floor below them.
So-called bloggers are in the hall covering a national political convention live for the first time ever, joining the estimated 15,000 traditional mainstream broadcast and print media staffers chronicling the event.
Democrats accredited about 35 writers of Web logs or “blogs,” choosing from more than 200 applications, in an effort to expand the media bullhorn that will amplify the messages of the convention.
“These people will take a completely fresh look at it from a completely different perspective,” said Peggy Wilhide, a convention spokeswoman.
There’s a range of ages, professions and ideologies, but all have an interest in politics — and in their Web hobby. Some are covering specific issues — like the role of the Internet in politics — while others write about whatever they feel like, from the security, to the traffic to the protests.
The hot new thing at conventions this year, bloggers also will be credentialed by the Republican Party at its gathering next month.
For now, Democrats have the stage — and the credentialed bloggers have a birds-eye view of it. Scores of other bloggers for traditional news organizations, including The Associated Press, also are offering running commentary and tidbits about all things convention-related. But event organizers set aside workspace inside the FleetCenter for those they accredited.
Five rows from balloon-filled rafters and next to a bank of TV cameras, the bloggers peck on their laptop computers while sitting on barstool-like chairs at long plastic-covered tables erected over two rows of seats.
“All lost bloggers gratefully accepted,” said blogger David Weinberger, when a convention staffer escorted a few new faces to the section.
The 53-year-old Bostonian and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Policy is writing for several Web logs, including for The Boston Globe’s. His subjects have included the filing center itself and his journey to get his credentials.
Kirk Johnson, whose 6-month-old Web log is devoted to America’s policy in the Middle East, took a break from writing a bit about a breakfast the DNC held for credentialed bloggers to give his two cents on their being given media space at political conventions.
“Everyone’s talking about if we’re journalists or not and, honestly, I really don’t care. We’re here,” said the 23-year-old video documentarian from Chicago.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing on the boulevard.
Just a few hours before the convention was gaveled to order, DNC technicians were trying to ensure the bloggers had constant high-speed wireless Internet access inside the FleetCenter as promised. The system was on the blink.
“If we’re not online, we don’t exist,” said Jay Rosen, a 48-year-old New York University journalism professor and an accredited blogger. “We’re going to be useless.”